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Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois


Public Policy

The Public Policy Program promotes the rights and quality of life of people with disabilities through legislative and policy reforms and initiatives, often in collaboration with state government.

The Public Policy Program helps legislators understand the potential impact of policy changes on the lives of people with disabilities. It supports and opposes proposed legislation. In some instances the program drafts legislation and advocates for enactment of new laws. (No public money is spent on legislative advocacy.)

Over the years, the program has:

    • Supported bills that protect people’s right to self-determination
    • Supported bills protecting the availability of high-quality in-home and community-based services
    • Supported restricted use of seclusion in schools on students with disabilities
    • Backed restrictions on restraint and seclusion in mental health settings
    • Strengthened state systems that investigate abuse and neglect 

Recent case highlights and accomplishments

  • Establishment of an Adult Protective Services System:  Equip for Equality began working with the state administration to advance bills to create an Adult Protective Services System. The system would investigate domestic abuse, neglect, and related incidents involving seniors and adults with disabilities.  We spearheaded the effort to create a centralized abuse-and-neglect hot line for adults. We made sure the bill included recommendations of a legislative task force and our own study on gaps in state systems intended to keep people safe.
  • State initiative to rebalance developmental disability services:  Equip for Equality worked with the state to address a wide variety of issues affecting the governor’s initiative to close state-operated developmental centers and move residents into the community or other settings of choice.  Equip for Equality publicly supported the governor’s efforts to close Jacksonville and Murray Developmental Centers through legislative testimony, participation in news conferences, letters to the editor and other activities.  
  • Home care for medically fragile children:  Medically fragile children were in danger of losing critical services. Our policy department was instrumental in blocking the loss of services they needed to stay out of institutions.  We participated in a state task force and advocated for policies to help parents continue to care for their children at home while addressing costs.
  • Medicaid managed care:  Policy staff followed the state’s Medicaid managed care initiative, participating in stakeholder meetings and providing formal and informal ideas about the impact specific provisions would likely have on people with disabilities.
  • Participation in state task forces and planning groups:  We worked to create or affect policies that address the rights and needs of people with disabilities who are the victims of sexual assault. We conducted strategic planning for the Division of Mental Health of the Illinois Department of Human Services; the Illinois Department of Public Health’s work group for administrative rules for ICF/DDs; and the Illinois Imagines Public Policy Committee.
  • Promoting voting rights:  Equip for Equality undertook a broad effort to register people with disabilities to vote. That included registration at health care clinics, community mental health providers and day programs for people with developmental disabilities.  We have a strong partnership with the Chicago and Cook County election authorities, and help them before and during Election Day with disability-related issues.
  • Advocating for and against state and federal legislation:  Our work in this area included opposition to a state bill that would have impeded the governor’s rebalancing initiative. (No public dollars are spent on legislative advocacy.)
  • Providing guidance on proposed federal regulations:  Equip for Equality provided ideas on the strategic plan for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and commented on the proposed definition of “home- and community-based services” as used in waiver programs by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.



Last updated: May 04, 2018

This website is made possible by funding support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, both the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of Equip for Equality and do not necessarily represent the official view of any of these agencies.

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